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At first sight, it seems more CO₂ can only be beneficial to plants, but things are a lot more complex than that. sarayut Thaneerat / Getty Images

By Sebastian Leuzinger

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change.

If you have a question you'd like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz

If carbon dioxide levels were to double, how much increase in plant growth would this cause? How much of the world's deserts would disappear due to plants' increased drought tolerance in a high carbon dioxide environment?

Compared to pre-industrial levels, the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in the atmosphere will have doubled in about 20 to 30 years, depending on how much CO₂ we emit over the coming years. More CO₂ generally leads to higher rates of photosynthesis and less water consumption in plants.

At first sight, it seems more CO₂ can only be beneficial to plants, but things are a lot more complex than that.

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Once carbon dioxide concentrations became low enough (around 300 parts per million) between two and three million years ago, the current ice age cycle began. sodar99 / Getty Images

By James Renwick

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change.

If you have a question you'd like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz

Earth had several periods of high carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and high temperatures over the last several million years. Can you explain what caused these periods, given that there was no burning of fossil fuels or other sources of human created carbon dioxide release during those times?

Burning fossil fuels or vegetation is one way to put carbon dioxide into the air – and it is something we have become very good at. Humans are generating nearly 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year, mostly by burning fossil fuels.

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According to researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Louisiana experiences one of the highest rates of sea level rise on the planet, as evidenced by this home on stilts on August 24, 2019 in Grand Isle, Louisiana. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

By Alistair Walsh

Global sea levels will probably rise by even more than currently predicted, scientists warned on Friday.

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Scientists testing water in the Arctic for ecology research. Arnulf Husmo / Getty Images

By Alex Matthews

Every year 150 climate scientists fly far into the wilderness and bore deep into Greenland's largest glacier. Their work is complicated and important. The EastGRIP project is trying to understand how ice streams underneath the glacier are pushing vast amounts of ice into the ocean, and how this contributes to rising sea levels. But this year the drills will be silent. The ice streams will go unmeasured.

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A gas flare from the Shell Chemical LP petroleum refinery illuminates the sky on August 21, 2019 in Norco, Louisiana. Drew Angerer / Getty Images.

Methane levels in the atmosphere experienced a dramatic rise in 2019, preliminary data released Sunday shows.

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A protester left a "Science Makes America Great" sign in front of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Science March in Washington on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, 2017. Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call

By Michael Halpern

Now, for some good news: the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that UCS's lawsuit challenging the politicization of EPA science advisory committees may move forward. UCS sued the agency over a new directive that prohibits EPA grant-funded scientists from serving on these committees.

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Approximately 210,000 gallons of crude oil leaked out of a 16-inch pipeline just south of Staples, MN, in Dec. 2009. MN Pollution Control Agency / CC BY-NC 2.0

By Tara Lohan

The New York Times keeps a running list of all the environmental regulations that the Trump administration has worked to trash since taking office more than three years ago.

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Yellow trout lily flowers nearly a week earlier now than in previous decades in the Appalachian Mountains. Katja Schulz / Wikipedia / CC BY

By Theresa Crimmins

Across much of the U.S., a warming climate has advanced the arrival of spring. This year is no exception. In parts of the Southeast, spring has arrived weeks earlier than normal and may turn out to be the warmest spring on record.

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Diego Diaz / Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

By Dana Drugmand

Opponents of a regional proposal to curb transportation sector emissions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are using a number of deceptive tactics to attack and criticize the Transportation and Climate Initiative. Groups tied to the oil industry have pointed to misleading studies, deployed questionable public opinion polling and circulated an open letter in opposition.

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Climate change headline in flaming newspaper. RapidEye / iStock / Getty Images

By Andy Rowell

Five years ago, the leading climate denial organization in the UK, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), published a pamphlet entitled: Carbon Dioxide, the good news.

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Some backcountry skiers and snowboarders are not just hitting the slopes. They're measuring how deep the snow is and sending the data to climate scientists.

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Pro-environment demonstrators on the streets of Washington, DC during the Jan. 20, 2017 Trump inauguration. Mobilus In Mobili / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Dr. Brian R. Shmaefsky

One year after the Flint Water Crisis I was invited to participate in a water rights session at a conference hosted by the US Human Rights Network in Austin, Texas in 2015. The reason I was at the conference was to promote efforts by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to encourage scientists to shine a light on how science intersects with human rights, in the U.S. as well as in the context of international development. My plan was to sit at an information booth and share my stories about water quality projects I spearheaded in communities in Bangladesh, Colombia, and the Philippines. I did not expect to be thrown into conversations that made me reexamine how scientists use their knowledge as a public good.

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A flooded motorhome dealership is seen following Storm Dennis on Feb. 18 at Symonds Yat, Herefordshire, England. Storm Dennis is the second named storm to bring extreme weather in a week and follows in the aftermath of Storm Ciara. Although water is residing in many places flood warnings are still in place. Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Britain has been battered by back-to-back major storms in consecutive weekends, which flooded streets, submerged rail lines, and canceled flights. The most recent storm, Dennis, forced a group of young climate activists to cancel their first ever national conference, as CBS News reported.

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